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Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

We could all use some tips to save a little cash.  It does take a little planning and time to save money on your food budget.  I’ve found this planning makes dinner time more relaxing as well.  Picture yourself getting home from work or other activities and knowing exactly what you are going to fix for dinner.  Let’s face it… this takes a load off when you are tired from a long day.  Use the tips below and you’ll see it is possible to save money and eat healthier at the same time.

  • Use foods that you already have in the house.  Take inventory of your refrigerator, freezer and shelf stable foods.  This will decrease waste and save money.
  • Arrange inventory into food groups. Check for meat, meat alternatives, beans and eggs or any other protein sources.  Next look for vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy and whole grains.
  • Plan your meals for the week.  Use any leftovers from a previous meal to make a future meal.  For example:  Grilled fish or chicken from last night can be used in a quick salad or whole wheat wrap for the following lunch or dinner.  Toss in some broccoli slaw or shredded carrots to add more nutrients.  Use fruit as a side or a snack.
  • Make a list of what you will need to add to your inventory to make well-balanced, healthy meals.  Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season to save on cost.
  • Check grocery store ads and look for stores which have sale items that match your list.  Adjustments may need to be made to take advantage of sale items at this point.  Remember frozen foods can sometimes be more nutrient dense than fresh foods.  If buying canned foods, look for low or reduced sodium.
  • If saving money is your primary goal, visiting more than one store may be cost effective as long as you don’t have too far to drive.
  • Clip coupons for items that you plan to buy.  Caution:  Cutting coupons for items that are not on your list will cost—not save— you money.
  • Buy lean meat in bulk when it is on sale. Separate it into servings when you arrive home and freeze the extra portions for future use.
  • Purchase extra frozen vegetables and fruits when they are on sale for future use.
  • Once you are home, keep foods in an organized fashion so that you will be able to find and use them quickly and easily.  For example: Store all canned beans together, whole wheat pasta together, all frozen fruit together on the same shelf in the freezer; fresh vegetables in the produce drawer in the refrigerator; and so on.
  • Beware of snack food items, prepared convenience foods and sweetened beverages that can add a huge expense without the value of nutrition.